Last night we had some people over for dinner and were enjoying mojitos and the sunset up on our observation deck. Throughout it all Buddy kept barking at the grass behind us. We kept yelling for him to be quiet because we couldn’t see anything and he often barks at ghosts, auras, angels and other things we can’t see but he can.
Finally, I went into the house to lay out dinner and before I knew it Thom came running in with both dogs and said there was another cobra outside, and that that’s what Buddy had been barking at. By this time Gabriel our trusty night guard had killed it. Thom said that by the time he got there it was standing up in its strike mode and that Coco had charged it.
We didn’t know if it had spit on Coco or not but given that it was in the strike pose by the time Thom got there, we had strong suspicions. (The cobra in the yard last week never got into the strike position.) This photo on the left is from this site and shows how far they can spit. We had been told to rinse her eyes with milk so I poured some milk into a measuring cup and we flushed each eye twice.
As we were eating dinner our guests noticed Coco was really rubbing her eyes and acting uncomfortable so we went and got more milk and this time rinsed them a little more. We still didn’t really believe she had been spit on but weren’t taking any chances. By the time we went to bed Coco’s eyes were weepy and the outer parts were super swollen (it doesn’t look bad here but in real life that pink inside flesh was sticking like half an inch out).
I texted this information to our veterinarian and she called right away (late on a Friday night – this is why we love Dr. Liza). She said we should flush her eyes out with water for 5 minutes, give her an aspirin to reduce the swelling, bring her in first thing in the morning, and that she would be fine. Sometimes people don’t know just how comforting hearing an emphatic “it’ll be fine” or “everything will be okay” is. I was really, really worried as Coco’s eyes were looking worse and worse and Dr. Liza’s words, “she’ll be fine,” kept ringing in my ears.
Thom lifted Coco into the bathtub and we used the nozzle to spray straight into her eyes. She just stood there stoically. Thom said, “she knows we’re helping her.” We were both really bummed that we had waited 4-5 hours to really flush her eyes, just because we weren’t sure if she had been sprayed. Since the venom had had all of that time to kill tissue (which is apparently what it does), I kept testing her vision by tossing her pieces of popcorn. She caught them all so I felt a little better.
The next morning her eyes were pretty much sealed shut with mucous but after she rubbed them for a few minutes she could open them and it seemed like she could see fine. Again, it’s hard to see in this photo but the eye on the left in particular was swollen and weepy.
We inspected the snake up close and personal (remember, its head had been smashed the night before) and you can see the pink/black pattern on the underside, characteristic of the Mozambiquan spitting cobra. This snake was substantially smaller than last week’s.
I took Coco to Dr. Liza’s right away and she tested Coco’s eyes to see if there was any tissue damage. Fortunately there was none! Dr. Liza said that she had seen lots of dogs in the last two weeks for cobra spits and that it must be the season. Halfway through her treatment she said, “you are really worried about this aren’t you? We Africans just [shrugs her shoulders], this is no big deal, happens all of the time.” She gave me several medications including antibiotics and an anti-inflammatory and a hug and 350,000 kwatcha later we were on our way. (Does your vet hug you? Have I mentioned how much better we feel around Dr. Liza?)
Coco seems no worse for the wear and even performed her Adorable Boerboel routine for us as we were inspecting the snake (see video below).